Mental problems

My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: March 27, 2019
My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden

See files for Dogs

The syndrome of sensory deprivation in dogs and other animals consists of the development of fears and phobias that cause an instability in the dog. This instability this leads the dog to perform unwanted or irrational behaviors. These behaviors may include; excessive barking in certain situations, paralysis by fear or biting of other dogs and/or humans.

If you have recently adopted a young or adult dog and they are exhibiting abnormal or presumably pathological behavior, you may find that you are facing a problem. This dog has most likely suffered isolation during its critical growth and socialization period. If you are wondering why is my dog scared of everything? Here at AnimalWised we will help you find out why! On the basis that your dog is suffering from sensory deprivation syndrome, we will be analyzing possible causes, symptoms and how to diagnose and treat this issue.

  1. My dog is scared of everything: sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs
  2. My dog is scared of everything and pees: symptoms of fear
  3. My adopted dog is scared of everything
  4. Sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs: diagnosis
  5. How to treat sensory deprivation in dogs
  6. Help! My dog is scared of everything
  7. My dog is scared of everything: what to do

My dog is scared of everything: sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs

Sensory deprivation syndrome is one of the main reasons your dog appears so scared. But what is it? The main cause of sensory deprivation in dogs is due to isolation during the dog’s socialization and neuronal development period.

During a dog’s childhood they go through different phases of development. If, for example, a dog is deprived of stimuli during such periods, it can cause severe damage to the development of their personality, causing aberrant and unwanted behavior when they are older. Such behavior includes pathological fear of everything, aggressive behavior and excessive barking. If you are wondering thinking my dog is scared of everything all of a sudden and why, you need to first understand how a dog develops:

These four stages of puppy development include:

  • Neonatal period (from birth to two weeks): during this phase, a puppy is limited to seeking food and heat from his mother or siblings. Their sensory or motor abilities are very limited. A dog or other animal, including human being, that is deprived of this period, may not fully develop certain hypothalamic functions (region of the brain that is responsible, among other things, for mood regulation).
  • Transition period: from the third week of age, a puppy begins to respond to visual and auditory stimuli while becoming accustomed to these senses. During this phase, a puppy becomes less dependent on its mother and begins to explore the world around it. They begin to walk more, play, move their tails in response to stimuli and discover touch and bite sensations.
  • Period of socialization (from four weeks to twelve or fourteen weeks of age): this is perhaps the most important and sensitive period in a puppy’s developmental process. Socialization is vital for both the physical and mental development of a dog.During this phase, a dog will begin to understand that they are a dog. This means that they begin to learn how to behave, what is dangerous and how to remain calm. This is also the stage where they should learn where to urinate and defecate and how to relate and behave with other dogs and animals of different species. They begin developing a nature driven by curiosity, becoming even less dependent on their mother and siblings. Dogs should begin socialization with humans at at least six to eight weeks old.
  • Juvenile period (from week twelve to adulthood): during this phase a dog should achieve social independence and not create attachment. The reason for this is that if a dog is too dependent on their owner it can lead to separation anxiety, which can result in destructive behavior. It is essential that during the stage, a dog begins to learn rules and is trained appropriately and positively.

The absence of adequate stimuli during any of these periods can trigger sensory deprivation in dogs. This is why your dog may be scared of everything, shy and/or aggressive.

My dog is scared of everything and pees: symptoms of fear

Now that we can understand what a healthy and normal development of a puppy looks like, let’s discuss its opposition. It is important to understand that any alteration within these phases can induce the appearance of unwanted behavior. Specifically, we need to be aware that isolation of a dog to other dogs, humans or any stimuli can result in the animal suffering from pathological fear[1].

Symptoms of a dog suffering from sensory deprivation or a scared dog include;

  • Paralysis or blockage.
  • Refusal to contact with possible flight or fight responses.
  • Uncontrolled barking.
  • Involuntary urination.
  • Predatory aggression.
  • Overexcitement.
  • Neurodegenerative symptoms: skin problems or digestive disorders (anorexia).

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss why my dog is afraid of people.

My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden - My dog is scared of everything and pees: symptoms of fear

My adopted dog is scared of everything

If your dog is scared of everything, sensory deprivation syndrome may be the culprit. However, it is not the only possible cause of fear in dogs. Dogs which have experienced multiple traumatic experiences are also prone to suffering from from general fears and phobias. Therefore, if you have just adopted a dog that appears incredibly fearful, find out about its previous life. In addition, we recommend consulting a canine educator or ethologist. A professional will be able to evaluate the situation accordingly and safely, establishing a treatment plan to help the animal.

For more, we recommend reading about before adopting a dog: what to consider.

Sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs: diagnosis

If you think your dog may be suffering from this syndrome, you should first consult a veterinarian who can perform the relevant tests. These tests will aim to rule out any other types of pathologies, determining the dog’s health status. Next, as mentioned before, consult a canine behavioral specialist or ethologist for an appropriate and correct diagnosis.

How to treat sensory deprivation in dogs

A specialized veterinarian or ethologist can appropriately formulate a treatment plan for your dog’s individual situation.This treatment can be include two different therapy types:

  • Behavioral therapy: A dog ethologist or educator will study the case and choose the best treatment for the animal. Trying to work towards and achieve a state in which the dog stops feeling unwanted and irrational fear.
  • Drug therapy: In this case, a veterinarian will establish a medical treatment in order to help reduce the dog’s stress and anxiety levels.

In addition, it is possible that the specialist on your case may decide to carry out a combined treatment of the two options above. Either way, it is vital not to force or push the animal negatively, as this will only worsen and put emphasis on its fears.

My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden - How to treat sensory deprivation in dogs

Help! My dog is scared of everything

If you’re wondering why is my dog scared of loud noises? Or why your dog is scared of everything on walks, there are other reasons that could explain this fear in dogs.

Other possible reasons why your dog is afraid of everything include:

  • Pain.
  • Illness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Trauma.

My dog is scared of everything: what to do

If your dog is scared of everything but it may not be due to sensory deprivation syndrome, there are some other things you can take into consideration to help it.

How to help a scared dog

Some things you can do to help a scared dog include:

  • Offering it a safe space to relax.
  • If there is a particular source of the fear, like thunder, try to distract your dog with games or play.
  • Don’t punish your dog, but at the same time, don’t offer it too much affection as this could only promote the fear.
  • If you believe that your dog may be afraid of everything because it is ill or in pain, take it to the veterinarian immediately to make rule out the possibility of pathology. To help you determine whether or not your dog is in pain, read 5 signs of pain in dogs.
  • Is your dog stressed or anxious? You need to find the source of this stress and eliminate it. For more on how to help a stressed dog, read: 10 signs that your dog is stressed.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden, we recommend you visit our Mental problems category.

  • Drape, D.D. (1976). Improper Puppy Socialization and Subsequent Behavior. lOUJ'a State University Veterinarian. 38 (2).
  • Fox, M.W. (1966). The Effects of Short-term Social and Sensory Isolation upon Behavior, EEG and Averaged Evoked Potentials in Puppies. Physiology and Behavior. 2, 145-151.
  • Fuller, J.L. (1967). Experiential Deprivation and Later Behavior. SCIENCE. 158, 1645 – 1652.
  • Landsberg, G.M., BSc, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECAWBM, Director, Veterinary Affairs and Product Development, CanCog Technologies, and Veterinary Behaviourist, North Toronto Veterinary Behaviour Specialty Clinic Sagi Denenberg, DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM (Behaviour), MACVSc (Behaviour). (2018). Behavioral Problems of Dogs. MSD MANUAL Veterinary Manual.
Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 3
My Dog is Scared of Everything All of a Sudden